English FA to bring in new heading rules for youth training but not matches

Youths heading the ball

February 6 – The English Football Association is to introduce new guidelines limiting the amount of heading children will be allowed to do in training.

Proposals have reportedly been drawn up covering age groups from Under-7s to U18s in an attempt to reduce the potential danger of problems in later life.

Last month, in a ground-breaking move, it was announced children under-12 in Scotland were set to be banned from headers due to links between football and dementia.

The United States has had a similar ban in place since 2015 but the SFA would become the first European country to impose such a restriction.

The decision followed the release of a report by the University of Glasgow last October, which discovered that former players had an approximately three-and-a-half-times higher rate of neurodegenerative disease.

The English FA proposals are based on the same report though banning heading in matches remains unlikely.

In December, two months after the release of the study’s findings, the FA’s head of medicine Charlotte Cowie said: “The FA’s independently chaired research taskforce has instigated a review of possible changes to heading coaching and training at all levels to decrease overall exposure to heading without compromising technique.

“It is imperative that football now does everything it can to further understand what caused this increased risk and what can be done to ensure that future generations of footballers are protected.”

The FA is also pushing for the introduction of much-publicised temporary concussion substitutes at a meeting of the International Football Association Board, the game’s lawmakers, later this month.

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